Youth begins with probably the best cover version of You’ve Got The Love I’ve ever heard, this one coming from The Retrosettes Sister Band.
Unfortunately, that’s one of the best things about this film which didn’t grab me from teh trailer, but I thought I’d give it a shot as the leads wouldn’t put their names to something unbefitting of their long careers, surely? (Well, the Direct Line adverts for one of them… hmm… let’s just forget that)
Set in a health spa retreat in Switzerland, where mostly elderly residents are trying to recapture their younger years, the film centres around two long-term friends: Fred Ballinger (83-year-old Michael Caine) – a celebrated conductor whose constantly reminded of a track he made back in the day called “Simple Songs” of which he’s long since tired, and Mick Boyle (77-year-old Harvey Keitel) – a film director past his best years, who’s working on his, possibly, last movie. Their conversations mostly revolve around how much (or how little) they’ve been able to urinate, although their seemingly meandering chat does come full circle by the time we’ve reached the end of the film, which makes it worth sitting through, but it really does take a long time to get there.
Alex Macqueen (The Thick Of It) puts in a nice turn as the Queen’s Emissary, visiting Fred to tempt him back for one last performance, for the Queen, giving him at knighthood at the same time as Prince Philip has a birthday, and there’s also an amusing cameo from the 79-year-old Jane Fonda as a well-known actress who Mick wants to star in his film.
However, Youth is like looking at a moving painting. There’s a stack of arty, well-composed shots, but not a lot of substance. Caine and Keitel are mostly just going through the motions – although the former has been phoning it in for quite some time, while Paul Dano (Love and Mercy) and Rachel Weisz (The Lobster) have been far better before now. In addition, Paloma Faith has a cameo as herself for no particular reason, although there’s an amusing pop video for her track “Can’t Rely On You”.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen theatrical ratio and is in 1080p high definition, and looks crisp and sharp, bringing the stunning Swiss retreat gloriously to life.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and the classical music pieces are served well, but most of the time, it’s a dialogue-driven movie.
The extras are as follows:
- Behind the Scenes (17:09): A mixture of clips from the film and on-set footage, including the stunning Sumi Jo warming up, and also segments from the director’s interview.
- The BFI London Film Festival Featurette (2:16): Practically, a trailer-cum-puff piece.
- Interview with director Paolo Sorrentino (10:49): And here’s that aforementioned interview.
The menu features clips from the film set against a segment of Sumi Jo singing Simple Songs #3, there are subtitles in English and a bog-standard 12 chapters.
Running time: 124 minutes
Released: May 30th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Redcode RAW (4K) (5K))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Producers: Carlotta Calori, Francesca Cima and Nicola Giuliano
Screenplay: Paolo Sorrentino
Music: David Lang
Fred Ballinger: Michael Caine
Mick Boyle: Harvey Keitel
Jimmy Tree: Paul Dano
Diego Maradona: Roly Serrano
South American’s Wife: Loredana Cannata
Miss Universe: Madalina Ghenea
Himself: Mark Kozelek
Funny Screenwriter: Nate Dern
Bearded Screenwriter: Alex Beckett
Shy Screenwriter: Mark Gessner
Screenwriter in Love: Tom Lipinski
Girl Screenwriter: Chloe Pirrie
Lena Ballinger: Rachel Weisz
Masseuse: Luna Mijovic
Brenda Morel: Jane Fonda
Violinist: Viktoria Mullova
Herself: Sumi Jo
Queen’s Emissary: Alex Macqueen
1st Queen’s Emissary Assistant #1: Ian Keir Attard
1st Queen’s Emissary Assistant #2: Adam Jackson-Smith
Swing Band: The Retrosettes Sister Band
Eastern Masseur: Vincent Wolterbeek
Escort’s Mother: Laura De Marchi
Doctor: Wolfgang Michael
Pharmacist: Cornelia Marxer
Silent Wife: Heidi Maria Glössner
Silent Husband: Helmut Förnbacher
Buddhist Monk: Dorji Wangchuk
Julian: Ed Stoppard
Herself: Paloma Faith
Pale Teenager: Emilia Jones
Marilyn-Ditsy Girl: Veronika Dash
Luca Moroder: Robert Seethaler
Mountain Bike Boy: Alessandro Soriano
Singer: Maria Letizia Gorga
Escort: Gabriela Belisario
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.